With local elections in all London Boroughs in May, political parties should remember that housing is not built, nor are homes improved, without London’s builders’, plumbers’ and timber merchants. That was the message from Lords Builders’ Merchant to Rupa Huq MP when she visited the 33-year old business in Park Royal, Ealing.
Dr Huq was welcomed by Shanker Patel, Lords Chief Executive, to learn more on how merchants deliver for their communities – and to discuss issues affecting the supply chain and the wider London economy. The MP toured the business with Mr Patel and John Murphy, Branch Manager, who outlined the role, value and importance of merchants in creating local jobs and growth.
Dr Huq heard how merchants like Lords have evolved since the ‘Credit Crunch’ of nearly 10 years’ ago – and how the building materials’ supply chain is responding to today’s housing challenges.
Several issues aimed at narrowing the gap between housing demand and supply were discussed in the context of the Mayor of London’s Housing Strategy and the new draft London Plan. If Londoners are to see the 66,000 new homes a year they need, one solution is a stronger emphasis on developing small sites that SME builders can undertake. According to Shanker Patel, better use has to be made of existing buildings and building upwards to add extra storeys must also be part of the package to deliver more homes in the capital.
After visiting the 2-acre site, Rupa Huq MP said: “I was delighted to visit Lords here in the constituency and see for myself their contribution to Ealing and the wider London economy. I pay tribute to Branch Manager, John Murphy and his team in helping customers with their building projects.
“Housing is central to my Party’s thinking and we want to see better quality and more affordable housing in London if we are to improve the lives of constituents. This week, we saw another new Housing Minister appointed, meaning that there has been seven Housing Ministers in the last seven years, and three in the last seven months. This is not helpful to firms like Lords that want certainty and stability in housing and planning policy to be able to invest confidently in people and products.”
Concluding the visit, Shanker Patel, Chief Executive of Lords Group, said: “I was grateful to Dr Huq for taking time to come today and gain further insight into our supply chain. We wanted to show her that builders’ merchants like Lords offer good jobs and rewarding careers, to people of all ages, and serve local communities in helping to improve their homes.
“Lords and the BMF are pleased that housing remains at the top of the political agenda and that MPs like Rupa Huq recognise the urgent need to build many more new homes. Merchants want to see unstinting efforts by both national government in Whitehall and local authorities in London to narrow the gap between housing demand and supply.”
Mr Patel is also a Board Director of the Builders Merchants’ Federation that represents the interests of merchants and manufacturers. Dr Huq noted that the latest available BMF economic data shows that sales figures for October 2017 were up nearly 10% overall, compared to the same month in 2016. These robust sales’ figures demonstrate the adaptable nature of merchants like Lords – especially in the housing repair & maintenance market.